They've allowed three years for a bold animal-tracing scheme to bed down properly, but once there they reckon it will give New Zealand a system that will boost our ability to respond quickly in the event of a biosecurity threat such as a disease outbreak.
And in the case of contagious diseases - think foot-and-mouth - rapid response is vital.
That's the reasoning behind the development of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (Nait), and in recent weeks a team has been crossing the country explaining the ins and outs of the scheme to the farming community.
When the roadshow came through Wanganui, presenter Dan Schofield said an example of the panic that could occur came in 2005, when it was thought foot-and-mouth disease had been found on Waiheke Island.
Fortunately it was hoax but Schofield said trying to locate stock and verify numbers, even on that small Hauraki Gulf island, was a nightmare.
Schofield said they had allowed three years to get the scheme up and running, so those in charge of farm cattle and deer would have some leeway.
But he also gave a clear signal that those who tried to buck the system would face legal action and hefty fines if they were persistent offenders.
Here's some of the important information owners will need to know.
WHAT IS IT?
The Nait scheme will provide reliable, up-to-date information about individual animal locations and movements, aimed at improving New Zealand's ability to respond more quickly if there is a biosecurity threat such as a disease outbreak.
The scheme is funded through levies paid by the industry (65 per cent) and public funding (35 per cent). Levies will only be used to recover Nait's operating costs. The industry-owned Nait company is governed by a board of directors.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
People in charge of animals need to register with Nait, tag and register their stock, and record animal movements.
The electronic system will enable cattle and deer to be traced much faster than existing manual systems with up-to-date information on individual animal movements.
The focus of the Nait scheme is on cattle and deer.
WHAT ABOUT PRIVACY?
All the data will be kept private, as required by the Privacy Act.
WHAT ARE THE COST BENEFITS?
A conservative cost-benefit analysis in 2009 assessed that Nait would generate annualised benefits of about $38 million per year. New Zealand faces huge costs if it fails to meet international expectations for animal identification and tracing.
IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN NAIT AND FARMSONLINE?
FarmsOnline is a government-owned database that brings together existing information about the ownership and management of all rural properties, land use, stock and crops. Nait relies on being able to identify the property on which the animals are located.
Where possible, this information will be sourced from FarmsOnline and confirmed during the Nait registration process.
ARE ALL ANIMALS PART OF THE SCHEME?
No. The focus of the Nait scheme is on cattle and deer because they are already included in mandatory animal identification schemes under the national Bovine tuberculosis pest-management strategy.
WHEN WILL NAIT BECOME MANDATORY?
When the legislation is in place and the Nait system is operating effectively.
It becomes mandatory for cattle on July 1 and for deer from March next year.
HOW DO YOU SUPPLY INFORMATION TO NAIT?
By using a number of options: online, through a Person in Charge of Animals (PICA) delegate who can meet obligations on your behalf, by use of a phone service or via a Nait-approved information provider of your choice.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
It will be funded through a series of tag-and-slaughter levies farmers will pay. The cattle tag levy for 2012-13 will be $1.10 (excluding GST) per tag, and that levy is paid at point of purchase as part of the overall cost of the tag. The slaughter levy for 2012-13 will be $1.35 per head (excluding GST) per tag, and will be administered by meat-processors.
The scheme recognises that some animals will be impractical to tag, and there will be a transitional process allowing these animals to be sent to meat-processors without Nait tags. These animals will be subject to an "impractical to tag levy" of $13 (exc GST) per head.
For more information go to the Nait website Nait.co.nz or you can contact Nait by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the freephone number 0800 624 843.